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NFL fantasy: Week 5 start ‘em sit ‘em wide receivers

With the bye weeks upon us, we need to know what second-tier wide receivers are worth a start and which should sit right where they are.​


Between the bye week, bad plays, and broken bones, I must really think about whom to play this week. This is what I’m thinking about wide receivers so far. 

Start this guy: Jaron Brown, ARI vs Philadelphia Eagles

What do you get when you have a receiver who leads his team in targets, a coach who admits he needs to pass more than run, and an opponent ranked 30th in NFL fantasy points to wide receivers? You get Jaron Brown of the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5. Jaron’s stat line is almost a carbon copy of teammate Larry Fitzgerald’s (meaning he is a must-start, too… but I shouldn’t have to tell you that.) The Eagles are still trying to get a whole secondary together as injuries have ravaged their defense this season. 

Sit this guy: Martavis Bryant, PIT vs Jacksonville Jaguars

There are too many bad signs to start Martavis Bryant this week, even if Ben Roethlisberger is supposed to be infallible playing in Pittsburgh. For one, Jacksonville has the top-ranked defense against quarterbacks and the third-best against wide receivers. Second, Le’Veon Bell seems poised to take over the bulk of the offense.  Third, after last week’s antics on the sideline, you can bet Big Ben is looking for Antonio Brown as his first and second option before passing to anyone else. Leave Martavis on the bench this week. 

Start this guy: Pierre Garcon, SF vs Indianapolis Colts

Brian Hoyer has been spreading the ball around well this season, but with Marquise Goodwin fighting an eye injury and concussion, and facing one of the most generous pass defenses in the league, Hoyer will turn to the best pair of hands among his receivers. Indianapolis’ strong run defense will make the Niners air it out a bit. Garcon comes down with over 100 yards to kick off the second quarter of the season. 

Sit this guy: Amari Cooper, OAK vs Baltimore Ravens

Amari Cooper is in a bad way lately. First, Washington throttled the Oakland offense and shut down the wide receiver. Then he tried to rebound against the best overall defense in the league; that didn’t go well. This week, he faces the #4 NFL fantasy defense against wide receivers with a backup quarterback and without the only other receiver that warrants special attention in Michael Crabtree. This is not likely to be the week Amari Cooper returns to fantasy relevance. 

Start this guy: Kelvin Benjamin/Devin Funchess, CAR vs Detroit Lions 

The Detroit Lions are this season’s Minnesota Vikings. They came charging out of the gate as the top D/ST in the league and then faded into streaming territory. That was because the bulk of their fantasy points come from turnovers. The pace is unsustainable and will eventually fall off, bringing the Lions back to the pack. This is evidenced by Detroit’s top overall D/ST ranking despite middle-of-the-road marks against running backs and wide receivers. Even if Detroit grabs another interception or two, Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess will catch enough passes to be fantasy relevant. 

Sit this guy: AJ Green, CIN vs Buffalo Bills

Buffalo will bring a dose of reality to Cincinnati this week after two weeks of Green Bay and Cleveland. The transformation is real in Buffalo. Leslie Frazier has them playing tough defense. Despite playing Denver and Atlanta, the Bills are the sixth-best D/ST against wide receivers. They will limit Green and could keep Cincinnati out of the end zone most of the day. 

Week 5 flash-in-the-pan prediction: 

Tre McBride rises to the top of the middling Chicago Bears wide receiver ranks to catch two Mitch Trubisky touchdown passes on Monday Night Football. 

Full disclosure: about last week…

Two out of three ain’t bad, right? Or four of six, which is how I fared last week. My worst miss was starting DeSean Jackson against the Giants. He was only the fourth-best wide receiver on his own team, coming in at WR-80 overall. This week will be better!

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Pat Opperman

Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.

NFL fantasy: Week 5 start ‘em sit ‘em wide receivers

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